Meltdowns of Volcanic Proportions

It was an emotional afternoon for the Wonderfamily today. Baxter, who has been out of it all day and brought home some less-than-stellar papers from school, melted down about school work that is apparently simultaneously too easy and too difficult, and informed me that he’s exhausted all the time at school, despite his 10.5 solid hours of sleep every night.  “Maybe it’s because I’m growing so fast,” he suggested tearfully.  Indeed; he has grown an inch since Christmas.  We cuddled on the couch for a while and talked about feeling overwhelmed and the winter blues, and a while later when I turned on some music I watched him whirl in circles and boogie to his heart’s content.  He seemed more himself afterward.

For his part, Lyle pulled a stunt I hadn’t seen in a long while, that of purposely making requests that he knew I would say “no” to (such as getting McDonald’s for dinner out of the blue, or getting his bike from storage and riding it just as I was beginning to make dinner) and then falling apart over each denial.  “I haven’t gotten to make a choice in YEARS!” he wailed.  (Matt later pointed out that just last night he got to make the choice to wear his swimsuit to bed in lieu of pajamas, so that isn’t 100% accurate. But you probably already knew that.)

I’m not entirely sure why the crazy hit our little household this afternoon all of a sudden – and for both of the boys – although in hindsight I realize that I talked with them about the fact that I will increase my work hours again this summer on our drive home from school.  At the time they seemed to take it in stride, but I have a feeling it had an impact on little Lyle.  Perhaps it didn’t help that we happened to have our former nanny (who took care of him 3 days a week when he was younger and I was working intensely, something that upset Lyle) here babysitting this evening. It’s possible that I didn’t time that conversation so well.

Or maybe it was a fluke, a one-off.  Whatever the cause, I was most fascinated by the way Lyle handled it.  In the middle of more loud demands from him, I observed aloud that he was really very frustrated and angry, and that I’d like to see a picture of how mad he was.  He likes to draw, and went right at it.

First, he brought me this scribbled piece of his mind:

“I’m so mad, this is all lightning around me!” he yelled angrily. (He didn’t mention that he had become an At-At.)

Then he took off and created another:

“I’m as mad as THIS VOLCANO!!” was his next very loud assertion.

Finally, he grabbed two pieces of paper and asked for help finding some tape.  While I stood by the stove, maddeningly not doing what he wanted, he created his piece de resistance:

“This is me exploding with anger!” he shouted,  his tone matching the violent eruption of this very tall volcano.  “There’s lava EVERYWHERE!”

I exclaimed over the magnitude of the eruption and how angry he must be. I noted that it must be awful to be so very mad.

And you know what?  That was it.  Emotionally, he erupted right along with that massive volcano, and the catharsis of drawing it and showing me just how bad it was seemed to be what he needed.  Without another word about it from either of us, he puttered around the kitchen, chatting happily about Bakugan toys while I made the wrong dinner and didn’t ride bikes.  It was a win-win.

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10 responses to “Meltdowns of Volcanic Proportions

  1. Damn. I always learn something new from you. I love the idea of drawing mad. I’m most definitely going to try that one.

    Sorry it was a hard afternoon, but glad to hear everyone bounced back quickly.

  2. Ditto what Kristen wrote. And, oh, poor Lyle…that’s a LOT of angry!!

    Thinking about Baxter’s boogeying (sp?)…maybe he needs more physical activity woven into his school day to help him? It seems as our kids get older the schools think they don’t need the activity breaks anymore. Just a thought…

  3. Niksmom, I totally agree. I talked to him about how little he’s outside these days, and the fact that the little recess they do get is shortened during the state testing, which they just finished Monday. I suspect that’s part of it. Honestly, this is one reason I want our family to get a dog – to have a couple short walks outside built into our day on a consistent basis. It would be very good for all of us.

  4. My favorite picture is that first one.

  5. Sarah Mitchell

    There must have been something in the air yesterday. My son came off the bus telling me that he had kicked his friend and felt really bad, but that he was feeling out of control. Then he went home and drew a picture of a rocket ship that you could get on when you were out of control so you wouldn’t get mad at kids around you. He promptly gave the picture to his little sister to teach her how to stay in control.

  6. Okay, I, too, always learn something from your post, and this was no exception!

    The part that actually made me snort outloud was the comment about the At-At. Seriously, Jordan. Hilarious, even in the face of volcanic anger.

  7. Hmm. Mabe *I* should start drawing my anger…

  8. …and MAYBE I should start proofreading my comments.

  9. Oh Jordan, I laughed out loud with sympathy and relief just looking at that giant two-pager volcano! I remember suggesting the drawing of feelings to Iris when she was three, and it totally not working at ALL, but this post reminds me that five is a lot older and more self-aware than three, and it’s worth another try. Thank you!

  10. It’s always interesting how kids pick up on our stresses. Add that to the weather, the change of seasons, the upcoming test season at school, and all the other environmental stresses and you are lucky you only got dancing and volcano drawings. My two are older (11 and 9) but we are getting tears, depression, anger, etc. Today the sun is shining, they are breezing through school (we use an online public school, so they are home ALL the time), and itching to get out and run. I’ll let them blow off the afternoon and be free. They need it. I NEED it. Even our farm animals need it. (You should see our old cow bucking and jumping on the green grass like a baby calf.)

    OH I always wish comments (and life) had spellcheck.

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